Norway to fight divorce with date night

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(AFP) Norway's minister for children, equality and social inclusion, Solveig Horne, said Wednesday she wants parents to go on dates to help reduce the country's soaring divorce rate.

"It's important for parents to find small pockets of time where they can be boyfriends and girlfriends," Horne, from the populist Progress Party, told newspaper "Stavanger Aftenblad", arguing in favour of weekly date nights for couples.

Her comments signal a change in Norwegian family politics, which have traditionally been centred on the wellbeing of children.

The minister, member of a new centre-right coalition government, has set herself the goal of strengthening the family, and reducing divorce figures.

At 40 percent, Norway's divorce rate is one of the highest in Europe.

Horne did not say how the state might help stimulate romance between parents but she does see a role for the state in promoting the place of the family.

"Protecting the family is something that has not been sufficiently prioritised. Under us it will be," she told Stavanger Aftenblad.

Norway's government has also committed to increasing funding for state-run counselling services for couples and reducing fathers' entitlement to paternity leave.

The minister was not available for comment but her Labour Party predecessor Anniken Huitfeld was sceptical of the paternity leave proposal.

"Many divorces are to do with disagreements about the division of work in the household. That's why you need good paternal leave, one of the things that the new government wants to reduce," she told newspaper "Verdens Gang".